I am home from a LONG trip, and ready to rejoin the fray. To answer a direct question: Yes, Rick
, Justices (and lower judges) can
be impeached. It is just very hard to do it. Much better they never get confirmed in the first place, but that is also difficult to prevent when the controlling party has a lock on the process.
Let's face reality: the Republican party is playing without principles, and the Democratic party has always been more reluctant to ignore laws and principles. As Michelle Obama put it, "when they go low, we go high." Republicans see this as weakness, because, frankly, bullying is in their DNA. (I can cite centuries of evidence to support that statement.) I am not suggesting that the Democrats adopt the Republican strategy entirely, but they should be aware of it and counterpunch when appropriate and point out the utter lack of morality of the GOP constantly.
One example is the judicial appointment history of the parties. Democrats, by and large, appoint moderate, rational, non-ideological judges, and follow the standard practices for advice and consent. Republicans block Democratic nominees, slow-walk the process when Democrats have nomination powers, and libel the nominees and courts whenever possible. When Republicans control the nomination/advice process, they jam ideologues through the process, skip formalities, consent to marginal qualifications, and have successfully stacked all of the courts with their radical nominees. To wit: Gorsuch. He's not the outlier, he's proof of concept.
As was pointed out earlier, Kennedy was never a liberal. He just happened to have a soft spot on certain issues. But Alito, Thomas, Roberts, and Gorsuch are the new four horsemen
of the Supreme Court. Ideological conservatives who vote as a bloc on every issue. Consider this: When Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed by Ronald Reagan, it created a stir both because she was a woman and because she was VERY, ideologically, conservative, and would tilt the balance of the Court. She became the "new center" of a Court that skewed conservative. Kennedy then became "the center" - even further right. Now Roberts will be the "swing vote" of the Court. Considering how far right Roberts is, Katy-bar-the-door. Justice Kennedy May Soon Find Himself Disappointed And His Legacy Undermined
If Garland had been confirmed (as he should have been), the balance of the Court would still be skewing rightward, but there would still be a balance. In all likelihood, the skew to the right will be insurmountable in my lifetime and yours, and big money is playing to assure that: A Lifetime Investment: Big Money Pours Into Supreme Court Battle
- npr. These are the highest stakes we've faced since 1935, and the odds are far, far worse. I suspect that there will be a 6-3 skew before the end of Trump's term. And they have already established their armory: How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment
- NYT (subscription).Addendum
: It’s not just abortion: 5 issues likely to be affected by Kennedy’s exit